The world of professional football is a small one, especially in the CFL. A perfect example of that is the bond between Roughriders quarterback Brett Smith and Lions pivot Travis Lulay.
“I just grew up watching (Lulay). I grew up probably 15, 20 minutes from the town he grew up in,” said Smith.
“There aren’t many quarterbacks coming out of where we come from. Some guys had Brett Favre as their guy. Some guys had Peyton Manning as theirs. Lulay was mine.”
Lulay grew up in Aumsville, Oregon while Smith comes from Salem.
As Smith followed Lulay’s career from high school to university and his early years in the NFL and CFL – Lulay actually became aware of Smith as well.
“My brother-in-law actually coached Brett in junior high track and field. I heard about Brett from by brother-in-law when he’s like ‘I have a kid, he’s going to be pretty good. So, keep an eye on him.’ I had an eye on him through high school, and remember seeing when he got a scholarship in Wyoming,” said Lulay.
When Smith made the decision to leave Wyoming early to enter the NFL draft, It’s only natural that he ended up signing on with the same player agent group as Lulay.
That’s when the two finally got to have a conversation for the first time.
“I think (Lulay) gave me a call right before the draft process and let me know his story and what to expect. It was pretty cool,” said Smith.
The fact that Smith is even still in football and playing in the CFL might be thanks to Lulay in a roundabout way. Before turning pro, Smith didn’t really know a whole lot about the CFL and whether it could actually be an option for him going forward in his career. That is, until Lulay became the Lions’ starting quarterback.
“He was kind of the guy that exposed me to the CFL,” said Lulay.
“I didn’t know much about it until he came up here and had the success he did.”
Earlier this season, Lulay and Smith had another conversation. This time, before Smith made his first career CFL start against the Eskimos at the end of July.
Lulay actually gave Smith some advice heading into the game. The veteran told the 23-year-old to try and stay within the system and try not to do too much.
“Because as soon as you try to do too much, that’s when bad things happen,” said Smith.
“Make sure you don’t get too high or too low. Just go out there and have a blast.”
Lulay’s advice appears to actually go beyond just the standard words of wisdom.
“They’re running my old offence, right? I recognize a lot of things they do on film and kind of throw some things at him that might surprise him that I still know about. It’s been fun,” said Lulay.
Lulay feels like he’s giving back to the game that’s given him so much and Smith is more than willing to listen to it all.